Tuesday, June 28, 2022

ICELAND Days 4-5: Trolls, Akureyri, and Summer Swimming

We are in Day 8, hanging out in our hotel, the Brunnholl Guesthouse, where we can allegedly see a glacier from our window, but the fog is so thick, a pod of dinosaurs could be over there and we wouldn't know. So I'm taking a few minutes to blog- back to days 4 and 5 we go!
Day 4: Tröllaskagi Peninsula to Akureyri

Today we woke up late in our beautiful seaside cottage in Bjarg, ate a tasty breakfast, and then collected our children from the bouncy ground balloon a few yards away. Today was a big drive day- heading north and starting to cut west to Akureyri via the Tröllaskagi peninsula. But first, a stop at Hvítserkur Sea Stack, aka The Troll of Northwest Iceland!
There’s a viewpoint, but obviously we took the hike down, along a waterfall (also "of course," there’s a waterfall every 3 feet in Iceland, it’s ridiculous), to the rocky black sand beach below.
The kids explored the beach, uncovering beached jellyfish, pretty rocks, and the occasional broken shell.
Once we were ready to hike back up, we decided to try a different path, missed the path, and were taught the error of our ways by some VERY angry nesting birds.
Luckily, in running away from them, we found the path back up!
As we neared the top, a baby sheep came by to bless our journey and we knew we were on the right path.
Iceland, like hiking and driving your way through a video game.

From there we began traversing the coastline of the Tröllaskagi peninsula. Wide ocean expanses, tall snow covered mountains, long rolling hills, high roaring waterfalls, often all in one view.
The single-lane many-mile-long tunnels were quite an experience we never need to repeat, as were the narrow lanes hugging cliffs down to the sea below.
But we loved Hofsós, a 16th century trading post and historic fishing village on the northern coast, with its waterfall (OF COURSE), expansive sea views, and big lava rocks to climb.
We ate lunch at an Ethiopian restaurant with another trampoline at a park around the corner.
Eventually we made it to Akureyri and the stunning cottage that is our home for two nights.
Three bedrooms (though of course the kids are all piled together into one), 2 bathrooms, large kitchen, hot tub with a view, and most elusive- a washer and dryer!
We ate dinner at Strikið in downtown Akureyri and it was our best meal so far on the trip. Grocery shopping afterward was an adventure; with everything in Icelandic, we would find out later if we'd bought what we thought we did. The kids thought a jacuzzi with a view before bed sounded just right and then we tried to make ourselves believe it was bedtime in broad daylight around midnight.
At 1:40 am the sun was still shining, what a crazy wonderful place this is.
Day 5: Akureyri!

A full day in Akureyri and our wonderful cottage.
We enjoyed a lazy morning, made breakfast (Landon declared the Icelandic waffles the best he’s ever had), and decided to act like locals and head to the nearby public pool.
Public pools here are *amazing*. (As are the traffic lights, which have red hearts when you stop.)
Every town has a public pool, and they all have lap swimming, multiple water-park-level slides, multiple geothermal heated hot tubs at varying temps, cold plunge pools, saunas, water playgrounds, and more. Children learn to swim as a class in school and Icelanders swim nearly every day year-round. You have to shower down (naked, communally; the girls were scandalized) before and after, the locker rooms were *spotless* and completely dry, and it was the best way to spend 2 hours and a grand total of $20.
The slides were amazing- a heated glass column surrounded the spiral stairs up, lights followed you all the way down, and one ended in a giant funnel that whipped you around until it spit you out in the heated pool below. We had just the best time.
We stopped at a bakery on the way home and ordered almost everything (the big fluffy chewy pretezels were the best) and then made lunch in our cottage kitchen before heading back out.
This time to visit the Goðafoss waterfall!
The drive was beautiful, as they all are, and after seeing approximately 1,000 waterfalls already on this trip, this one was definitely special. Goðafoss is big and loud and gorgeous.
We all climbed down and around it (obviously) and lost Landon for a bit when he decided to climb an old bridge pillar.
We spent the late afternoon exploring downtown Akureyri, eating “the best ice cream ever” while James stopped at a lasagna stand for his afternoon snack, and then made a delicious spaghetti dinner in our own cozy cottage kitchen.
After dinner the kids tried to hike into the cloud behind our cottage and were disappointed to discover that being in a cloud is really just being in fog. You can't even see Landon behind them.
Our next day was full of excursions (or was supposed to be, stay tuned), so we were grateful for a lazy local day in the middle of our big road trip!
(Eating ice cream cones in hats and gloves while pedaling in a circle, as you do. If there is a park, we will find it, and we will play on it. Thankfully Iceland is FULL of them.)

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